Former 'American Idol' Star Clay Aiken Endures Jabs in Political Debate

PHOTO: Clay Aiken answers questions during the taping of a debate with Renee Ellmers, Oct. 6, 2014 at the Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C.PlayRaul R. Rubiera/The Fayetteville Observer/AP Photo
WATCH American Idol Star Clay Aiken Sings A Different Tune In Bid For Congress

Clay Aiken is no stranger to competition.

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The former “American Idol” star, 35, found himself on a different sort of stage Monday, participating in a political debate. The singer is running in the second congressional district in North Carolina. Aiken, a Democrat, is facing Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers.

Aiken and Ellmers traded barbs Monday in their only head-to-head debate, with both accusing the other’s party for the dysfunction in Washington.

“This Obama-Aiken economy is just killing us,” Ellmers said.

“You might need to get a new writer because calling it the Obama-Aiken economy is just preposterous,” Aiken responded.

Ellmers also took a jab at Aiken’s celebrity status.

“It's almost as if as an entertainer, you believe that you can just go in with a song and dance and change the mind of the military leaders,” she said.

Aiken, considered an underdog, seemed to hold his own Monday, discussing his frustration over political partisanship. The singer was the runner-up in the show’s second season in 2003, losing to Ruben Studdard. He hopes to avoid another second-place finish in his current challenge.

“The most embarrassing reality show in the country right now is Congress,” he said.